Tuesday, 16 October 2012


Noted bloggers have panned the results of Edelman’s Trust Barometer for suggesting that there is a ‘trust deficit’ between the public and the  mainstream media.

Edelman’s Global CEO Matthew Harrington told StarBiz that the level of trust the public has for the local media can be improved and that, “Having better engagement with readers, having constant dialogue and being more transparent about its agenda is needed to create more trust for the Malaysian media sector.”

MP P Kamalanathan however questioned how the survey was conducted.

“It may be a subjective issue, but if you speak to a pro-opposition supporter, he or she will express their distrust in the print media...however, if you speak to pro-government people, they will say that they trust the media,” he said.

Criticism aside, the Edelman survey is among the few on the influence of the Malaysian mainstream media.

If global trends hold sway in Malaysia, the mainstream outlets should be panicking over the loss of revenues as a result of the internet, but that discussion, while not absent in this country, has not reached the franctic levels as seen in the UK or the US.

Paywalls, a major discussion point in those markets, is a subject rarely expored here.

There are exceptions of course: Malaysiakini has been subscription-based since 2002, while publications under the Utusan banner only post partial articles to nudge readers into buying the physical copies.

The push to bring screens to new screens, on the other hand, has gained prominence. Almost every major newspaper in the country has some kind of tablet app that packages their daily editions into digital formats.

Arguably right now those iPad editions appear to be straight ports of the print editions but it’s early days yet, and digital exclusive content is slowly emerging.

Monday, 15 October 2012


Tourist arrivals in Johor are expected to surge to unprecedented levels following newly-developed tourism products in Iskandar Malaysia that are family-oriented and suitable for all ages, says the Director of Johor Tourism Department, Md Za'nal Misran.

"Iskandar Malaysia is equipped with infrastructure and facilities that enable the state's tourism industry to comprehensively provide family tourism, edu-tourism and health tourism within a single location," he said in an interview.

"Johor tourism has (in the past) been very much dependent on coastal and island tourism, eco-tourism as well as its culture and heritage. We now have Iskandar Malaysia transforming the tourism industry in Johor with its family entertainment concept and high value products," he added.

Za'nal said with the opening of international theme parks such as Legoland Malaysia and upscale shopping complexes like Johor Premium Outlets, Iskandar Malaysia has attracted droves of local and foreign tourists to the southern part of Johor.

"The Puteri Harbour Family Theme Park featuring entertainment characters such as Hello Kitty, Barney and LAT's Place theme restaurant will be operational before year end. These will add to the theme attractions in Iskandar Malaysia and see more families coming here," he disclosed.

The 76-acre Legoland Malaysia, which opened to more than 10,000 visitors on Sept 15, will open its Legoland Water Park in the second half of 2013 followed by Legoland Hotel Park in 2014.

Khazanah Nasional Bhd is the prime mover of Iskandar Malaysia, which is targeted to secure cumulative investment of RM383 billion, over a 20-year period until 2025.

The southern development corridor has received cumulative investment commitment of RM95.45 billion between 2006 and June 2012, with the figure expected to hit RM100 billion by year end.

Expressing optimism on tourist arrivals to Johor, Za'nal said the numbers would surge this year, thanks to Iskandar Malaysia, and noted that the state has been recording a steady increase in tourists from about 3.5 million in 2009 to 3.6 million and 3.7 million respectively in 2010 and 2011.

The number of visitors to Johor rose by 22 per cent to 10.31 million in the January-June 2012 period from 8.28 million in the same period last year.

Za'nal said the positive effects of the increased visitor arrivals has resulted in greater business and job opportunities, thus making Johor better off economically.

In addition, he said Iskandar Malaysia also promoted educational and learning experience through its theme park attractions, adding that they help to drive family tourism and complement other projects.

They include spurring edu-tourism through various educational institutions in Iskandar Malaysia that cater to students of different age groups. For instance, Marlborough College Malaysia and Newcastle University Medicine Malaysia have built the momentum to attract students from various parts of Malaysia and neighbouring countries.

"There will be several more notable foreign universities coming to Iskandar Malaysia. As such, it will be cheaper for foreign students to study in EduCity than to go to a far-away country since the cost of living is much lower here," said Za'nal.

EduCity is also home to institutions such as the University of Southampton Malaysia, University of Reading Malaysia, Netherlands Maritime Institute of Technology, Raffles University Iskandar and Singapore Management Development Institute which are opening in the next year or two.

To complement the students' needs, EduCity will also have an international students village, a stadium and sports complex.

On health tourism, Za'nal said the opening of the 82-bed Columbia Asia Hospital in Nusajaya coupled with several more specialist hospitals being developed at the Afiat Healthpark could help promote Iskandar Malaysia as a world class healthcare centre for foreign and local patients.

The 300-bed Gleneagles Medini Hospital together with a 150-suite medical office block is expected to be opened by 2015. To be built in phases, the hospital will also have a rehabilitation centre, nursing home and hospital residency.

Meanwhile, the managing director of SN Vacation Sdn Bhd, Sharifah Nur'aini Al-Edros, said travel agencies were now customising their travel packages to include Legoland Malaysia, noting that theme park attractions and the completed development in the Kota Iskandar state administrative centre would also help boost tourism in Johor.

She felt that they can now market packages at overseas travel fairs to showcase international-class attractions like Legoland Malaysia and the Puteri Harbour Family Theme Park featuring Hello Kitty.

Other than theme parks, Sharifah Nur'aini said this was also a good time to promote Johor's rich culture and traditional cuisine such as laksa Johor, mee rebus and otak-otak.

Friday, 12 October 2012


(Credit: NASA)

If you were thinking of a conglomerate in the sense of a combination of two or more corporations engaged in entirely different businesses that fall under one corporate structure, then you're wrong.

Nasa’s Mars rover Curiosity has found a Martian conglomerate, which is a rock that could only have been formed from water-borne debris, and could be proof that the red planet supported life.

Thursday, 11 October 2012


KUALA LUMPUR, 11 Okt (Bernama) -- Kebanyakan sungai di Selangor yang menjadi sumber utama bekalan air mentah didapati tercemar dan berpotensi menjadi ancaman serius kepada keperluan asas yang amat penting ini jika tidak ditangani, seorang ahli sains memberi amaran Khamis.

Ketua Unit Permodelan Alam Sekitar, Pusat Penyelidikan Forensik Alam Sekitar (ENFORCE) Universiti Putra Malaysia, Dr Hafizan Juahir, berkata bahagian air bersih di sungai-sungai ini semakin pendek akibat aktiviti guna tanah yang terlalu tinggi, terutama pembangunan kawasan perumahan.

Sebagai contoh, beliau mendedahkan panjang Sungai Langat, sungai utama di antara beberapa sungai di Selangor yang menjadi sumber air mentah ialah 149.3 km tetapi bahagian air bersih hanya tinggal 49.3km sahaja manakala selebihnya 100km sudah tercemar.

Dalam satu temuramah dengan Bernama, Hafizan berkata, pencemaran sungai dikategorikan kepada empat kelas iaitu 1 dan 2 belum tercemar, manakala 3 dan 4 tercemar secara serius.

"Sepanjang 100km Sungai Langat sudah masuk dalam kelas 3, 4. Dan jika kualiti air sungai lebih teruk daripada ini, ia sudah dikira sungai mati," katanya.

Hafizan menjelaskan data-data ini adalah terkini yang diperolehi oleh para pelajar beliau yang membuat persembahan penemuan mereka mengenai keadaan Sungai Langat hanya tiga hari lepas.

Beliau berkata di daerah Hulu Langat kini keadaan semakin meruncing dan mengancam sungai akibat terlalu banyak pembangunan terutama kondominium, rumah-rumah kedai dan peningkatan populasi yang memberi impak negatif terhadap kualiti air akibat air cucian, sisa-sisa domestik dan sampah yang masuk dalam sungai.

"Saya adalah ahli sains dan penyelidik. Saya bercakap berdasarkan fakta mengenai kualiti air. Saya lihat secara terperinci setiap parameter kualiti air atau pun trend indeks kuailiti air. Jadi kuantiti air yang bersih sahaja pun tinggal sikit sahaja," tambah beliau.

Hafizan berkata ramai orang terkeliru apabila bercakap mengenai sumber air kononnya negara yang kerap hujan untuk mengisi empangan seperti di Malaysia tidak perlu bimbang tentang sumber air.

"Empangan hanya air untuk tujuan rawatan sebelum kita bekalkan kepada pengguna akhir seperti kita semua, pengguna domestik atau perindustrian. Tetapi sumber air daripada ini tadi perlu kita teliti daripada mana datang sumber air ini. Sumber air ini datang daripada sungai.

"Kalau nak mengharapkan hujan, memang jumlah hujan kita tinggi tetapi ia jauh daripada mencukupi dengan keadaan pembangunan yang pesat, pertambahan dan peningkatan dalam populasi. Tidak dapat tidak, permintaan bekalan air bersih dan air terawat terus meningkat dari semasa ke semasa," katanya.

Hafizan keadaan kualiti sungai yang semakin tercemar dan kuantiti air bersih yang semakin merosot bermakna kos rawatan air akan menjadi lebih tinggi dan ini akan mencetuskan persoalan sama ada kerajaan akan terus mampu memberi subsidi.

Ditanya mengenai dasar kerajaan negeri yang lebih mementingkan rancangannya untuk penstrukturan semula air di negeri itu daripada mengatasi masalah seperti ancaman pencemaran sumber-sumber air dan kekurangan kapasiti pengeluaran air terawat, beliau berkata penstrukturan semula seperti yang dicadangkan itu tidak akan memberi apa-apa makna sekiranya masalah-masalah yang lebih kritikal tidak diatasi.

"Tanpa mengambil kira bagaimana untuk mengawal pencemaran sumber air kita ini, meningkatkan keupayaan loji, mengambilkira aspek kuantiti air bersih, penstrukturan ini tidak akan memberikan apa-apa kebaikan," kata Dr Hafizan.

Beliau juga menyatakan sokongan terhadap rancangan kerajaan Persekutuan mendapatkan sumber air dari Sungai Pahang ke Selangor bagi mengatasi kekurangan sumber air dan pembinaan loji rawatan Langat 2 sebagai langkah tegas mengelak krisis air yang dijangka melanda Selangor, Kuala Lumpur dan Putrajaya menjelang 2014.

Lagi pun, katanya, air dari Sungai Pahang tidak tercemar seperti sungai-sungai di Selangor.


Friday, 5 October 2012


Johor is to emerge as the richest state in Malaysia by 2025, overtaking Selangor, if the current trend of development pace and investment inflows continues, an analyst with an investment bank said today.

Dr Nazri Khan, Affin Investment Bank Vice-President and Retail Research Head, said the projection was not something impossible to achieve with Iskandar Malaysia, one of the five economic corridors in Malaysia, having attracted more than one-fourth of the RM383 billion total investment target by 2025.

He said the economic growth brought to Johor by Khazanah Nasional Bhd, the government's investment arm, is seen as among concerted initiatives by the government to establish an economic hub in Johor outside the Klang Valley.

"We will see Johor transform into an Orlando in Florida and become Asia's Theme Park Hub with the presence of at least four theme parks in the state.

"They include Legoland Malaysia which opened recently, Puteri Harbour Family Entertainment Centre and Austin Heights Water Theme Park is due to open its doors soon. All these parks will provide ample jobs to our youths," he said.

The 2012/2013 Economic Report issued by the Finance Ministry on Sept 28 said job opportunities in Johor are expectex to double when some projects come on stream in the next five years such as Pinewood Iskandar Malaysia Studios, MSC Cyberport City and Urban and Resort Wellness.

At the same time, Nazri said efforts to attract cash-rich Middle Eastern investors, who have the capital to invest, must be pursued to maintain the development momentum in Johor.

He said the massive oil and gas project in Pengerang is being initiated at a timely juncture when the world demand for oil and gas was spiralling.

"Moreover, Pengerang's demographic location in the middle of the international shipping route to Indonesia and Singapore provided an added advantage to us than to our neighbours," he added.

Meanwhile, a restaurateur in Skudai, Mohd Kassim Ali, 52, readily acknowledged that he could feel the spinoffs emanating from Iskandar Malaysia development.

With the oil and gas project in Pengerang and with various other development projects in the drawing board under the Iskandar Malaysia economic corridor, Johor has become the latest trade focus in Malaysia, he said.

"Johor has become the focal point now as people from throughout the country are flocking to the state in search of high-paying jobs," he said.

Development projects implemented by the state government with the support of the federal government have given an "assurance" to Johor-born school leavers of ample job prospects and a decent income, he added.




Just weeks following the opening of Asia's first Legoland in Nusajaya here, local taxi and restaurant operators are pretty excited over the prospects of higher incomes and revenue from the expected rise in tourist arrivals, which will ultimately boost Johor's economy.

Since it opened its doors on Sept 15, Legoland, a project under Iskandar Malaysia's development, has attracted more than 10,000 visitors. Iskandar Malaysia has been mapped out by Khazanah Nasional Berhad to help transform Johor into a major economic hub.

According to the President of the Johor Baharu-Singapore Taxi Owners Association, Wahab Hashim, the opening of Legoland Malaysia "means that there will be more trips to ferry passengers between the Causeway as the theme park is also a major attraction to Singaporeans."

"I believe there will be more business for us with Legoland. It will only increase the welfare and well-being of taxi drivers over the long term," he said.

Wahab said the opening of a new township at Iskandar Malaysia also meant that local and foreign tourists would not bypass Johor Baharu but spend more time and money in the state capital and its surrounding areas, thus boosting the local economy.

"Previously, Johor Baharu served as a transit point and taxis were mainly commuting within the area, But now Johor Baharu has expanded and visitors are talking about going to Kulai, to Nusajaya, to Pasir Gudang. Can you imagine what it means to us as taxi operators?" he asked.

Wahab thanked the government for developing Iskandar Malaysia as there would be more tourists visiting the southern development corridor, which would also benefit the socio-economy of the surrounding towns.

More than 100 Johor taxi drivers who had been selected to serve as "ambassadors" for Johor's tourist attractions were given a sneak preview of Legoland's attractions before its opening, said Johor Tourism, Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Committee chairman, Datuk Hoo Seong Chang, adding that it was important that they were aware of the state's latest tourist attraction.

Another taxi driver in Johor Baharu, who did not want to be named, concurred with Wahab that there would be higher frequencies in taxi services to and fro Legoland as the bulk of tourists would opt for an overnight stay in Johor Baharu, which was a mere 15 minute drive to Nusajaya.

"There will also be higher demand for taxi service within JB going to places such as Holiday Plaza Mall, to Danga Bay, to pasar malams, the museum and so on," he said, adding that many passengers he had been ferrying of late had been talking enthusiastically about their Legoland experiences.

He noted that taxi drivers no longer had to wait for the long school holidays or festive seasons to earn more as Legoland had shown prospects of being able to attract holidaymakers all-year-round.

Echoing this view, Dev Singh, General Manager of M Suites Hotel, here said the pace of tourism activity in Johor Baharu had picked up in the last two to three years.

Last year, Johor was among five states with significant increases in tourists, as it reported a surge to 4.321 million tourists from 3.310 million tourists in 2010. It aims to attract five million tourists next year.

"In the past, many Singaporeans would by-pass JB and go to Melaka or Kuala Lumpur for their weekend shopping or leisure activities.

"But with the opening of Legoland, it is a different story now as tourists are eager to visit JB. Many hotels in JB are doing good business and reporting high occupancy rates now," he said.

A chef, who goes by the surname Wong, at the Grand Bayview Seafood Restaurant in Danga Bay, said the opening of Legoland as well as other projects at Iskandar Malaysia had triggered a steady flow of diners to food outlets in Johor Baharu.

"More tourists mean more business for our restaurants. Prior to Legoland, we were busy mostly on weekends. But we are beginning to have more people dining at our restaurants even on weekdays following Legoland's opening," he said, noting that Singaporeans accounted for about 50 to 60 per cent of his business.

He was confident that restaurants here, which had also started to have more promotions to cash in on the tourist upswing, would generally do well from now on because there were more things to see and do in Johor to make visitors stay longer.